I will just put the link to it here.
I read about God giving the Israelites quail recently and I realised something, I actually really sympathise with the Israelites. (Oh yes, the story about quail in Numbers is actually very sad)
Before I expound on my point, I want to clarify certain things. I am aware that the quail provision was mentioned in Exodus before. So there is a narrative contradiction right here. The one in Exodus 16 was before Sinai, while the one in Numbers 11 was after Sinai. So there are some problems with the recordings of history in Exodus vs Numbers. Possibly due to the way humans write history. So if you would bear with me, I am going to make certain assumptions here just to share my revelation of the passage in numbers.
- I am going to assume that the quail provision in Exodus and Numbers are the same event and that the timeline of the event is after Sinai.
- I am going to assume that the Israelites were indeed saying the truth. That they did not have meat since leaving Egypt. (Though, it is possible that the Israelites were exaggerating things, noting that when they left Egypt, they left with flock)
- I am going to assume that manna came as providence first, before Sinai. Then quail came, after Sinai.
- I am going to assume that they only thing they had for food was manna.
If what the Israelites claim was true. At this point, the Israelites has been out of Egypt for more than a year. The only food they have is manna. Which is this thin flake like frost, which they would grind down to make flour then make thin cakes and bread.
If anyone shames the Israelites for complaining even though they have food, should consider that they have been eating more than a year of manna. Considering that Egypt to Sinai took 44 days. They received Manna on the 15th day of the second month according to Exodus 16. The account in Numbers 10 was the 2nd year, 20th day of the second month. Meaning it is safe to say that the Israelites had eaten manna for one whole year. (One year five days, if you want to nitpick) There is a very good resource on the timeline and how the Israelites traveled here.
Can you imagine eating only bread for a whole year?
Like seriously. Currently I am on a liquid diet and I am sick of it already, not to mention that my mum has been amazing at trying to make me all my meals different. I am drinking milk, Milo, soy milk, different kinds of soup everyday, porridge, different kinds of juice, etc etc. Even with so much variety, I still got sick of liquids.
Much less the Israelites. They only had Manna. Surely the Israelites have creative people and I am sure through the year, there are people that try to prepare manna differently. Surely some would think, “maybe I should boil/BBQ/grill manna!”
Who knows, perhaps the Israelites even came up with all kinds of fun delicacies with manna. Can you imagine? Manna Mee Hoon Kuey? Even so, I still understand where they are coming from.
The Israelites has been out of Egypt for a year. A year of constant moving and living in tents. Their only sustenance is manna. The healthy had to take care of the old, perhaps even having to carry them when they get too weak to move forward with the camp.
For those that has went through Army, imagine field camp for a year. We complain about food even though we get different kinds of variety each day. We get more than enough food, drinks and fruits and yet we still complain. Much less the Israelites, they have to do everything out in the wilderness and their food was only manna. Of course they will complain.
However, I thought about it, I think it wasn’t the act of complaining that angered God. It was the act of saying that, “why did we ever leave Egypt? the Lord should have killed us in Egypt.”
Why I say so is because Moses also complained. He complained about his responsibility as a leader to Israel. “Did I give birth to them? Why must I take care of them?”
The Lord’s reaction to Moses’ complain was to appoint seventy leaders to share the burden with Moses. Far less harsh than to give quail with plaque or burn with anger.
So why the difference in God’s action?
I think it is because Moses complained about what God had planned for him, while Israel complained about following God at all.
“We should never have left Israel! God should have killed us then”
That is an equivalent of telling your Mum, “Ma, I rather Auntie Suzy be my mother than you, you never give me what I want! Auntie Suzy is horrible, but at least she gives me candy! You only give me those soups, never candy!”
Perhaps, little did you know, you have dabeties and your mum is just trying to save your life.
It is extremely rude isn’t it? If anyone dare say this to their mothers I will have such a strong desire to hit and scold you. Your mother knows what she is doing. She loves you and is doing her best for you, how dare you say this kind of hurtful things to your mum?
Much less the almighty God that has personally brought these people out of Egypt, an impossible feat for men, with miracles upon miracles, given laws to them and even given them mercy after mercy and these people still dare say this kind of words. Horrible. How dare the Israelites say those words?
I guess the point of my post hasn’t been too clear. So is Israel in the right or wrong?
I personally think Israel complaining about food is normal of a human to do so. However, there is a different between complaining about food and saying that they wish someone else is their mother. There is a difference between saying, “huhhh, again? :(” And “Ma, I want her to be my mum.”
I will complain about my diet constantly. There are times my mum makes this blended porridge thing and I just show a sick face because I am sick of starchy mess, but never would I tell my mum that I rather have someone else as my mum because she can cook better. NO WAY. I love my mum and no one else cares for me in the way she does.
So this post has two points.
- Don’t dehumanise the Israelites. They were humans like you and me and they had it rough ok!
- There is a clear difference between complaining and declaring that they rather have someone else as their master.
Hope that you learned something!
PS: Sidenote, I read somewhere that the plaque after providing quail, could be disease that came with the quail. To teach Israel that what they want, isn’t always the best the thing. Pretty cool.